By Michael Berkman
Political conventions focus attention on strong partisans. But not all Americans call themselves Democrats or Republicans, or for that matter Libertarians or Greens. Many prefer to think of themselves as Independents.
With the McCourtney “Mood of the Nation Poll,” we can look at these Independents in a unique way. The poll is a scientific survey that allows ordinary citizens to tell us what is on their minds, without being restricted to a small number of predetermined answers. It also includes standard polling questions such as party identification, allowing us to see who these independents are and what they are thinking about this campaign. The most recent poll posed a series of open-ended questions to a representative sample of 1,000 Americans between June 15-22.
Determining who is an Independent is not straightforward. CNN, in its post-convention survey, reports that “28 percent described themselves as Democrats, 24 percent described themselves as Republicans, and 48 percent described themselves as independents or members of another party.” This is not far from our survey. Our breakdown shows a greater number of Independents (35 percent) than Republicans or Democrats.
Continue reading Focus on research: Poll reveals 3 types of Independents
By Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer
As Americans grieved after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last month, Democrats and Republicans reacted quite differently to the news, according to a new “Mood of the Nation” poll developed by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy. Our findings indicate that while this tragedy brought us together as a nation, it also demonstrates the extent that the issue of gun control has come to divide our political parties.
The “Mood of the Nation Poll” is a new periodic scientific poll that assesses opinions by posing a series of open-ended questions to a representative sample of 1,000 Americans. It allows ordinary citizens to tell us what is on their minds, without being restricted to a small number of predetermined answers. The first poll of its kind, we asked 500 people in our sample to tell us what it was in the news that made them angry and what made them proud; we asked another 500 people what in the news made them ashamed or what made them hopeful.
Continue reading Focus on research: How did a polarized America react to Orlando?
By Michael Berkman and Zachary Baumann
In an election year notable for the success of “outsider candidates,” Pennsylvania confirmed that the party establishment has a much stronger hold on the Democratic than it does the Republican Party.
Pennsylvania Democrats participated in three notable statewide races: for president, for senator and to replace Kathleen Kane as attorney general. As we saw, in all three cases, the establishment candidate won by a significant margin.
Continue reading Focus on research: PA primaries offer microcosm of unusual election year